Establishment of Nuclear Power Institute at Texas A&M approved
A new statewide Nuclear Power Institute headquartered at Texas A&M University plans to make sure the growing Texas nuclear power industry has the engineers and technicians it will need as it expands in the coming decades. Establishment of the institute, a cooperative effort of Texas A&M's Dwight Look College of Engineering, the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), and other organizations around the state was approved Thursday (Dec. 6) by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents during its meeting in College Station. In particular, NPI activities will support statewide recruiting efforts for nuclear power-related programs. The partnership includes Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Prairie View A&M University, as well as several community colleges, the Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission, civic leaders and high schools. Plans presented to the regents call for the Nuclear Power Institute to manage a statewide effort to provide more than 2,000 engineers and technicians needed to staff and operate at least six new nuclear power plants in Texas scheduled to go into operation over the next 10 years. Electric power experts say nuclear powered electric generating plants offer the best chance of meeting Texas' growing appetite for electric power, expected to grow by at least 20 percent over the next decade. Nuclear plants can produce this needed electricity without contributing to the production of greenhouse gases. "The Texas A&M University System is uniquely configured with the ideal combination of education, research and service agencies and universities to lead this effort," said Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, vice chancellor and dean of engineering. "The institute will make a significant impact upon the workforce and economy of the state and nation." The staff needed to operate the additional reactors and generating plants will include technicians with two-year technical degrees, nuclear engineers and engineers in other engineering specialties. The NPI will oversee expansion of curriculums in high schools, junior colleges and four-year institutions to prepare graduates to enter nuclear power-related fields. The institute also will develop recruiting programs aimed at attracting students into fields that would prepare them to enter the nuclear power industry. "The Texas Engineering Experiment Station is the right organization to bring together academic education and training and the nuclear power industry," said K. L. Peddicord, a professor of nuclear engineering at Texas A&M and director of TEES. The STP Nuclear Operating Company, Luminant (formerly TXU) and the Exelon Corp. have announced plans to open six new nuclear power plants in Texas over the next decade. Several more may follow. "The next years will be an exciting time for nuclear power in Texas," said Peddicord. "We're glad to be part of it."